September 6, 2017


Contact: Quynh Thai, (212)759-3775

A new charter school dedicated exclusively to students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) will open on Thursday, September 7th, in Bronx, New York. This is the second school under the umbrella of NYC Autism Charter Schools. The first school opened in East Harlem in 2005. The NYC Autism Charter School Bronx will initially serve children ages 5 to 12 who are severely to moderately affected by autism. Located in the South Bronx, the school enrolls students by lottery, with 83% eligible for the state free and reduced price lunch program.

“There are no other public school models for students with ASD in New York State that look or operate like us. As with our East Harlem school, NYC Autism Charter School Bronx will offer its students a 1:1 instructional ratio, highly-skilled teachers who receive year-round training and support, and a completely individualized curriculum.” Julie Fisher, Executive Director of NYC Autism Charter Schools.

The NYC Autism Charter School Bronx staff is overseen by a Clinical Supervisor and Head of School, both of whom are board certified in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), a proven approach to teaching students with ASD. Each student receives an individualized educational program, with priority given to learning functional skills that will maximize his or her potential for success and independence. The curriculum focuses on teaching not just academics, but life skills such as communication, socialization, work readiness, self-care and daily living activities.


The NYC Autism Charter School in East Harlem was founded by NEXT for AUTISM, a non-profit that designs, launches and supports innovative programs to improve the lives of people living with autism. Folded into the school’s DNA are NEXT for AUTISM’s core values: to build excellent programs that maximize the potential of people with ASD towards independence, to expand system-wide capacity to serve people with ASD, and to ensure that individuals and their families are integrated and connected to their communities. The Harlem school is a model, demonstration program visited by educators worldwide. Its leadership has provided consultations and presentations to educators and audiences internationally. The Harlem School’s success, coupled with the high demand from students with ASD in New York City, led to the creation of the Bronx school.

“When we created the East Harlem school in 2005, there were about 3000 NYC public school children who were diagnosed with ASD. Now, there’s an estimated 15,000 or more students with ASD in NYC schools, a 5-fold increase. While the NYC Autism Charter Schools are designed to be small, their impact as model programs that inspire systems change is exponential.” Ilene Lainer, President of NEXT for AUTISM, co-founder of the NYC Autism Charter School.


  • The NYC Autism Charter Schools in the Bronx and East Harlem are the only charter schools in New York State and New York City that focus exclusively on students with autism, and that employ evidence-based practices grounded in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).
  • The schools view families and caregivers as critical partners, and work closely with them to address any issues that may present obstacles outside of school.
  • The Harlem and Bronx schools are located in buildings with other public schools, allowing for interaction with typically developing students through supported inclusion and the schools’ unique Peer Mentor program.
  • Students over the age of 13 participate in learning, recreation, and work internship programs outside of the school walls at organizations such as Facebook, White Castle, Shake Shack and Asphalt Green to encourage integration in the wider community.
  • Following the East Harlem model, which deliberately retains a small enrollment, the Bronx school will start with 12 students the first year, adding 12 more the second, and 8 the third year.
  • 18% of students since the school opened have graduated to mainstream programs, a high percentage given the severity of their individual challenges.
  • The NYC Autism Charter School East Harlem has trained 128 teachers in its approach since 2005
  • Staff retention is high, with most of the leadership team having worked in East Harlem for up to 10 years.
  • The NY State Board of Regents has twice renewed the East Harlem school’s charter at the maximum number of years allowable under the law.

For more information, please visit


NEXT for AUTISM (formerly New York Collaborates for Autism) is a non-profit that designs, launches and supports innovative programs to improve the lives of people living with autism. The NYC Autism Charter School East Harlem was its first program. NEXT for AUTISM, continues to provide ongoing strategic support to sustain and grow the charter schools.

Additional NEXT for AUTISM programs and initiatives include:

  • The Hunter Autism Research Practice and Policy Center at Hunter College, a teacher training program
  • The Center for Autism and the Developing Brain, a clinical diagnostic and treatment center at NY-Presbyterian Hospital with its affiliate medical schools at Columbia University and Weill Cornell
  • BOOST! After School programs at the JCC Manhattan
  • Project SEARCH Autism Enhancement, an employment training curriculum distributed and adopted nationally, and created by Project SEARCH at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the TEACCH Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • The Autism & Disability Visual Integration Company Experience (ADVICE), with Autism Speaks and the Poses Family Foundation, to expand a national service that connects businesses such as Staples & Cintas to resources that enable them to hire and retain people with ASD.
  • Further exploration of community living programs to accommodate the growing population of adults with autism

For more information, please visit our website


  • We believe that it is important to tell the story from the personal perspectives of parents and children, and will do our best to accommodate requests for interviews. Please be sensitive, however, that with younger children, parents are often wrestling with complicated emotions and stress around recent diagnoses and treatment plans. We may not always be able to introduce you to the families for this reason.
  • The descriptor “autistic” is best avoided. Instead, please use people/individual on the autism spectrum, with autism, or on the spectrum.
  • In terms of big picture statistics, we use estimates by the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC)
  • Please direct further questions to Ms. Quynh Thai, Strategic Content Specialist, or (212) 759-3775